Art of Chill Holidays

16 Clever Kitchen Tools to Make Your Holiday Cooking Calm & Bright

What we turn to for holiday magic.

November 28, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin

It's the most wonderful time of the year—so bring on the comfort & joy, we say. In The Art of Chill Holidays, we'll show you how we keep celebrations low-key, with festive decor tricks, clever time-saving tips, and scrumptious spreads of snacks (always snacks!).

This is it! The most wonderful time of the year! There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and loads of other holiday cheer coming out of our kitchens. From crispy golden latkes and the tenderest brisket to trays of cookies and brittles and frosted buns, we all have tried-and-true seasonal favorites.

And in order to whip up some holiday magic, we turn to our trusty kitchen tools to get the job done. For me, that’s this nifty little juicer I’ve mentioned before. It’ll be extra helpful while making pitchers of hibiscus margaritas at my friend’s holiday party.

Curious to learn what my colleagues rely on for holiday cooking and baking, I asked the Food52 team to share favorite cooking tools. Check them out below.

A sweet helper

“My mom always made dark chocolate and walnut-topped toffee every holiday season to give out as gifts to all our neighbors, teachers, and friends. I've carried on the tradition in my own kitchen because it's so easy and addictive. The recipe requires a candy thermometer to make sure the melted sugar and butter get to the right temp so the toffee will be crispy-crunchy instead of chewy. I just use one of these old fashioned, clip-on thermometers to get there—never failed me!” —Cory Baldwin, Director of Partner Content

For tackling tamales

"Making tamales is a tradition in my family and this pastry board is going to make my tamales even and accurate with the portion of dough to filling. I'm excited that it's versatile and also a cutting surface. Bring on holiday prep!" —Trevor Baca Adams, Merchandising Coordinator

Wrap it up

“My vacuum sealer is my holiday workhorse! I make everything in my comfy kitchen and just freeze it and cook/reheat right before serving. We use it for smoked turkey, pie dough, biscuits, meatballs, etc.” —Luz Ramirez, Marketing Manager

Making lots of latkes

“My mom swears by the grater attachment on her Cuisinart food processor for latkes. Using a box grater is A-okay if you're making latkes for one or two people. But if you're making 'em for a crowd (have you ever tried grating eight-plus pounds of potatoes and onions by hand?), this is a total game changer.” —Emma Laperruque, Food Writer & Recipe Developer

Rolling in the deep

"Every year my family makes ginger shortbread cookies (a riff off an Ina Garten's recipe). This year, I got my mom our Lovely Baking Rolling Pin Set and definitely we'll be using those!" —Lucy Flanagan, Brand Strategy Manager

Worth its weight

"I love this digital scale all the time, but it's particularly helpful over the holidays when I'm baking up a storm. If you don't have a digital scale in your kitchen, this one is great—affordable and very easy to use." —Joanna Sciarrino, Managing Editor

Hot dish handler

"During the holidays I rely pretty heavily on those disposable aluminum pans with the plastic tops—for making marshmallows for gifts, sheet cakes and poke cakes for dinner parties, big casseroles to take to potlucks. There’s a lot to be said for a transferable, non-returnable vessel. Growing up my mom would even wash them and save them for the next year, which completely defeats the purpose in my book…” —Eric Kim, Senior Editor

A French favorite

“I turn to my Emile Henry cookware for both savory and sweet dishes, particularly the oval roaster and pie dish we sell in the Shop.” —Jon Schober, Creative Operations Director


"It seems strange, but I am a bit dependent on the smallest spoon from the SIR MADAM collection. I just love it. I use it for everything—stirring my Thanksgiving gravy, barely lifting my soovganyot out of the oil to take a peek, letting the kids take a little taste of mashed potatoes... The spoon is the perfect size for civilized taste testing, and takes away any concern of extra pouring out of the corners of your mouth. It's light and tiny, it feels like having your most resourceful, dependable, and low-maintenance friend around at every turn leading up to when everyone arrives." —Karen Levi, Director of Operations and Executive Assistant

Even better brunches

“I would be nowhere without my handy waffle maker. My family loves waffles of every stripe, and making them for holiday guests is so fun and keeps the vibe super casual. You can make a bunch beforehand and keep them warm in the oven while you prep the toppings. Here is a similar version of the one I have.” —Hana Asbrink, Senior Lifestyle Editor

Take it to the mat

"I love my pastry mat when rolling the dough out for making Christmas cookies. Every year since I can remember, my grandma, mom, and I have been making sugar cookies using a huge box of holiday-shaped cookie cutters." —Megan Güntaş, Digital Designer

For grate problems

"My zester is my BFF(&F&F) during the holidays. If I'm not grating garlic for a salad dressing or cheese for a last-minute quesadilla—what, Mom, you thought I wasn't going to have an evening snack before an 8 p.m. dinner reservation?!—I'm using it to microplane citrus rind into cakes and cocktails alike, or to make a shower of finely grated bittersweet chocolate fall all over the topped whipped cream layer of a pie." —Ella Quittner, Food Writer & Recipe Developer

The handiest tool

My best friend in the kitchen—especially during times of lots of cookie trays going in and out of the oven and many pots on the stove—is our double oven mitt. It's always hanging on the oven door ready for me (sometimes I don't even take it off, just slip my hand into one side to nudge a hot handle into place), and keeps my hands safe from the many opportunities for burns that holiday kitchen chaos throws my way. —Kristen Miglore, Creative Director, Genius

Meat master

“I'm either cooking a turkey or grilling an unimaginable amount of protein so I use a digital thermometer religiously.” —Sean Lee, VP of People and Culture

Need for speed

"As much as I love simple tools (give me a wooden spoon and some cheese cloth and I'm armed) my Nutribullet blender is on call all throughout the holidays for instant pureeing, breadcrumb blitzing, and even blending butter into dry ingredients for pastries. It's also the perfect size for closet-sized apartments." —Maggie Solver, Copywriter

What's your most helpful kitchen tool during the holidays? Share 'em all in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.